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Everyone Needs a Personal Hamburg

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It’s 1962, 4:30 on a Tuesday morning and an unknown band is wrapping up their set in a gritty tavern on the outskirts of the red-light district in Hamburg, Germany.

Its 2016, 10:30 on a Tuesday evening and a little-known writer is unloading the dishwasher in a quiet Canadian town.

The tavern reeks of urine, stale beer, cigarettes and sweat. The floor is sticky, the air is hazy, and there’s something splattered on the ceiling that might be whiskey and might be blood.

The writer figures shell fold laundry before getting to her half-finished manuscript. Her kids are finally sleeping.

The band’s been playing since 7:00 the previous night—it’s their 98th consecutive gig. Each day they sleep in a storage room behind a nearby cinema.

The writer fires up her laptop and checks Facebook. Responds to an email. Surfs.

This is the band’s first time out of Liverpool, and they’re immersed in a world of creativity, drugs and sex. They can’t believe they’re actually getting paid to be there. They are in heaven.

The writer is writing a novel. Shes had some short stories published. She makes herself a cup of tea.

The band plays at that dive every night, polishing their sound and developing their material. Their music is loud, relentless, improvised, riddled with mistakes, looped and repeated. The musicians’voices are hoarse, their fingers calloused, and the ringing in their ears never stops.

The writer is unsure of her main characters motivation.

John, Paul, George (and later Ringo) play for the thrill of it. The joy of it. They improve nightly. People start listening. Noticing. There is a sense that this wildly innovative music is something extraordinary. Something important.

The writer figures something will inspire her eventually. She goes to bed.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

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